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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 01/01/2006 - 01/08/2006
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Cheney's Chief of Staff, David Addington, is Cheney's Cheney

murray waas, on his blog "whatever already!" posts an excellent david ignatius profile of dick cheney's chief of staff...

i can't imagine what daily life in the west wing must be like with folks like addington, rove and cheney kicking around... it'd be like taking all the bad guys from a james bond movie, giving them steroids and letting them loose to fulfill their dream - rule the world...

Who is David Addington? The simple answer is that he's Vice President Cheney's former legal counsel and, since the indictment and resignation of Scooter Libby in October, Cheney's chief of staff. But behind the scenes, the polite but implacable Addington has been a chief advocate for the interrogation and surveillance policies that have created a legal crisis for the Bush administration.

Addington, 48, is in many ways Cheney's Cheney. Like his boss, he has exercised immense power without leaving many fingerprints.


What drives Addington is a belief that the president's wartime powers are, essentially, unfettered...


"It was very surprising if anyone took a position more conservative than David, and this was a very conservative office," recalls one former colleague. "He was the hardest of the hard-core."


He pushed Justice's Office of Legal Counsel to prepare a 2002 memo authorizing harsh interrogation methods. When that memo was later withdrawn, Addington was furious.


"David is a fight-to-the-end kind of a guy," says one former colleague. "If you made it clear that you opposed him, he'd go to war with you. David was not an adversary you would want."

Even people who describe themselves as friends of Addington believe that he has damaged President Bush politically by pressing anti-terrorism policies to the legal breaking point. And for many Republicans who bear scars from Addington, his story raises the ultimate question about the Bush White House: Who's in charge here?

two words come to mind... h-a-r-d a-s-s...

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Tommy backs off...

ARTIST: Paul Simon
TITLE: Slip Slidin' Away

Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip sliding away

God only knows, God makes his plan
The information's unavailable to the mortal man
We work our jobs, collect our pay
Believe we're gliding down the highway
When in fact we're slip sliding away

do you think he heard the drums pounding away in the jungle in the heart of darkness...?
Embattled Rep. Tom DeLay decided Saturday to give up his post as House majority leader, clearing the way for new leadership elections among House Republicans eager to shed the taint of scandal, two officials said.

These officials said DeLay, R-Texas, was preparing a letter informing fellow House Republicans of his decision. These officials spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they did not want to pre-empt the formal announcement.

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Why did 80% have to die?

yes, it's the right question but, for god's sake, why the hell are we having to ask it in the first goddam place...?
President Bush: Why does Donald Rumsfeld STILL have his job?

If Abu Ghraib wasn't enough -- why isn't negligence on the job that has resulted in many deaths?

The New York Times has acquired a secret Pentagon study showing that had appropriate body armor been distributed to military personnel, 80% of Marines who died from upper body wounds might have survived.


Rumsfeld believes -- like Robert McNamara once did -- that he is one of the nation's best "managers." He cleary has failed on so many management fronts that his self-confidence is delusion, but each of these manifestations of his failure need to be heard by the nation.

After the President's State of the Union address, which may be January 31st, Bush needs to retire Rumsfeld.

why do ANY of those s.o.b.'s still have their jobs and why can't we get 'em out, like yesterday...?

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You didn't think, with that amount of money involved, Bush WOULDN'T have met with Abramoff, did you...?

(thanks to think progress who does one of the best jobs around at digging up and disseminating the very kind of thing we need to know...)

it's good to see that, in the new year, scotty has picked up right up where he left off, stonewalling, sidestepping, bullshitting and generally lying through his teeth...
The White House maintains that Bush does not “recall” meeting Abramoff and, if they ever did meet, it was only in passing at a large gathering:
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, I said it’s possible that they would have met at a holiday reception or some other widely attended gathering. The President does not know him, nor does the President recall ever meeting him.

Q But he has the special designation as a Pioneer, as Terry was alluding to, raising more than $100,000. And he attended, as you told us, three events, holiday receptions at the White House. How likely is it that the President would not have met him —

MR. McCLELLAN: That’s why I said it’s possible. But I just told you what I know at this point, and the President doesn’t recall meeting him and he certainly doesn’t know him.

It’s not just possible, it happened.

The Texas Observer reports that Abramoff met with Bush on May 9, 2001, with his clients, the Coushatta tribe. (The chairman of the Coushatta tribe initially denied the meeting occured, but subsequently admitted that it did.) Abramoff charged his client 25,000 to arrange the meeting.

liars, liars, liars...

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Uruguay negotiating bilateral U.S. trade deal outside Mercosur...?

i hope not but it would certainly fall in line with the bush administration's well-known willingness to sidestep existing institutions, international conventions, rule of law, or whatever else it perceives is obstructing its agenda...
Uruguay yesterday denied that it may be negotiating a free trade deal with the United States, after Argentina warned it that such an accord could only be discussed from within the Mercosur trade bloc and demanded clarification. Uruguay and Argentina are also locked in a separate diplomatic dispute over the construction of two pulp mills on the border between the two countries. Uruguayan Economy Minister Danilo Astori, in remarks published on Thursday by the weekly newspaper Búsqueda, said Uruguay was already holding informal talks with Washington on such an accord.

However, Uruguayan Foreign Minister Reinaldo Gargano said yesterday that "the Uruguayan government is not negotiating any free trade deal with the US." He even expressed doubts about the news report. "If the foreign minister (himself) and the president (Tabaré Vázquez) are not aware of it, then, the report may be false to some degree," he told Argentina’s radio La Isla. [italics added for emphasis]

neither country benefits from engaging in regional disputes... latin america desperately needs to find a way it can come together and maximize its considerable strengths rather than playing into the u.s. strategy of divide and conquer... you'd think they'd have learned by now...

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Bush's bill-signing interpretive statements: "...unprecedented and alarming."

we figured out some time ago that the bush administration is bound and determined to do what it damn well pleases... we learned of the "interpretive bill-signing statement" strategy only last week, strongly supported, coincidentally enough, by supreme court nominee samuel alito... what continues to astound, however, is the scope and magnitude of the relentless bushco power grab...
Bush has used signing statements to reject, revise or put his spin on more than 500 legislative provisions. Experts say he has been far more aggressive than any previous president in using the statements to claim sweeping executive power - and not just on national security issues.

"It's nothing short of breath-taking," said Phillip Cooper, a professor of public administration at Portland State University. "In every case, the White House has interpreted presidential authority as broadly as possible, interpreted legislative authority as narrowly as possible, and pre-empted the judiciary."

Signing statements don't have the force of law, but they can influence judicial interpretations of a statute. They also send a powerful signal to executive branch agencies on how the White House wants them to implement new federal laws.

In some cases, Bush bluntly informs Congress that he has no intention of carrying out provisions that he considers an unconstitutional encroachment on his authority.

"They don't like some of the things Congress has done so they assert the power to ignore it," said Martin Lederman, a visiting professor at the Georgetown University Law Center. "The categorical nature of their opposition is unprecedented and alarming."

"They don't like some of the things Congress has done so they assert the power to ignore it." the constitution...? hey, it's just a piece of paper...

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The really hard work in Bolivia is just beginning

evo morales, bolivia's new president-elect, may find himself with a hard row to hoe...
[A]lmost every major oil company -- including Spain's Repsol, British Gas, ExxonMobil and Texas-based Vintage Oil -- has already threatened to bring a claim in international arbitration against Bolivia. And if Morales nationalizes the industry, under the terms of the bilateral investment treaties between Bolivia and the companies' home countries, they could sue -- in private, closed-door arbitration, without the safeguards normally provided by publicly appointed judges in an international court -- for not only the approximately $3.5 billion private companies have already invested in the natural gas industry here but also for the loss of expected profits, which could total tens of billions of dollars.

For a country like Bolivia, whose annual revenues are only a little more than $2 billion a year, that's no small threat. It's for that reason -- and a host of other ways in which the United States, the World Bank, the IMF and the Inter-American Development Bank can threaten to pull the noose tight around Bolivia's highly indebted neck -- that an Evo Morales presidency may well remain largely a symbolic victory.

i'm rooting for morales and the bolivian people even though i know that in a few minutes, i will walk into my kitchen here in buenos aires and fire up a gas burner under a kettle of water for my morning coffee, fueled by bolivian natural gas... i'll muddle through somehow no matter what happens, but the bolivian people, in a country that has been fiercely exploited for well over three hundred years, deserve something better for themselves...

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"Weak legal arguments" for spying must be just a simple misunderstanding on the part of the Congressional Research Service

NO...! REALLY...?
A report by Congress's research arm concluded yesterday that the administration's justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments.

The Congressional Research Service's report rebuts the central assertions made recently by Bush and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales about the president's authority to order secret intercepts of telephone and e-mail exchanges between people inside the United States and their contacts abroad.

well, frankly, i'm shocked, just SHOCKED...! and here i was under the impression that, because we are at war, the president as commander-in-chief had the license to do whatever it took to ensure the safety of americans... how could our president mislead us in such a fundamental way...? i mean, if you can't trust the president of the united states, freely elected in an open democracy, who CAN you trust...?
The 44-page report said that Bush probably cannot claim the broad presidential powers he has relied upon as authority to order the secret monitoring of calls made by U.S. citizens since the fall of 2001. Congress expressly intended for the government to seek warrants from a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before engaging in such surveillance when it passed legislation creating the court in 1978, the CRS report said.

what's next...? are we going to find out that privatization of social security is a bad idea...? that detainees have been subjected to interrogation techniques involving torture...? that huge military contracts worth billions of dollars have been awarded to companies on a no-bid basis...? but those would simply be too extreme... i'm sure this is all just a little misunderstanding and president bush will clear it all up in his radio address today...

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Yes, yes, and yes... The Bush agenda is absolutely to destroy the social contract...

Alice Fisher's role as chief prosecutor in the Jack (Does this guy look like a major pig prick or what?) Abramoff is worrying a lot of people. If the prosecutor isn't tough or effective enough, dozens of people in all areas of the Bush regime will get off scott free, with only half a dozen or so of the most obvious malefactors being brought to justice.

Gimme a break. Sure, she's never prosecuted a case before in her entire fucking life, but it's high time the public realized that having no experience is REQUIRED of the person entrusted with the highest positions in select areas of government. The point of a Bush regime executive appointment is not ONLY to reward some political Bush thug with a nice job, but is also to wreck, dismantle, or cripple some area of government designed to help the poor, foster equality, punish rich criminals, or protect the public from disasters. Other areas, such as war, spying on people, and running the economy are run by highly qualified people, who, as it happens, are also entirely incompetent. But that's another matter. They're not hired especially in order to BE incompetent, they just are.

thank you, thank you, thank you and thank you again... right up there on the top of the bushco agenda is the destruction of any implied or explicit social contract... the gang of criminals came into office with that specific item on their to-do list, they've been hard at work for five years and, by god, they've done a magnificent job so far...

so many people decry bushco for not having the interests of ordinary or disadvantaged people at heart but, folks, puh-leeeeze... that's the WHOLE IDEA...! if you ain't rich, if you're struggling, if you're having problems, if you aren't economically well-to-do, it's clearly because you are no damn good in the first place because, if you had the right stuff, you wouldn't be where you are, you poor bastard...

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Let's help the far right in their campaign to confirm Alito

this is what the "center for individual freedom" is asking people to send to president bush and the 55 republican members of congress in support of the confirmation of samuel alito to the u.s. supreme court... i suggest that all of us make a few small changes and send it right along...
The Center for Individual Freedom


TO: President George W. Bush

The 55 Republican Members of the United States Senate: The Hon. Lamar Alexander, The Hon. Wayne Allard, The Hon. George Allen, The Hon. Robert Bennett, The Hon. Christopher S. Bond, The Hon. Sam Brownback, The Hon. Jim Bunning, The Hon. Conrad Burns, The Hon. Richard Burr, The Hon. Lincoln D. Chafee, The Hon. Saxby Chambliss, The Hon. Tom Coburn, The Hon. Thad Cochran, The Hon. Norm Coleman, The Hon. Susan M. Collins, The Hon. John Cornyn, The Hon. Larry E. Craig, The Hon. Mike Crapo, The Hon. Jim DeMint, The Hon. Mike DeWine, The Hon. Elizabeth Dole, The Hon. Pete V. Domenici, The Hon. John Ensign, The Hon. Michael B. Enzi, The Hon. Bill Frist, The Hon. Lindsey O. Graham, The Hon. Charles E. Grassley, The Hon. Judd Gregg, The Hon. Chuck Hagel, The Hon. Orrin G. Hatch, The Hon. Kay Bailey Hutchison, The Hon. James M. Inhofe, The Hon. Johnny Isakson, The Hon. Jon L. Kyl, The Hon. Trent Lott, The Hon. Richard G. Lugar, The Hon. Mel Martinez, The Hon. John McCain, The Hon. Mitch McConnell, The Hon. Lisa Murkowski, The Hon. Pat Roberts, The Hon. Rick Santorum, The Hon. Jeff Sessions, The Hon. Richard C. Shelby, The Hon. Gordon Smith, The Hon. Olympia J. Snowe, The Hon. Arlen Specter, The Hon. Ted Stevens, The Hon. John E. Sununu, The Hon. Jim Talent, The Hon. Craig Thomas, The Hon. John R. Thune, The Hon. David Vitter, The Hon. George V. Voinovich, The Hon. John W. Warner


RE: Confirm Judge Alito

President Bush kept his promise and nominated a judge in the mold of Justices Scalia and Thomas to the United States Supreme Court.

Once again, liberal Senators and their allies [the American people] are screaming over the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito.

Now is the time to get tough! The American people will [not] tolerate no defections, stalls, delays or betrayals an extremist on the Supreme Court.

I expect every Republican Senator to vote "yes [no]" when Judge Alito's confirmation comes up for a vote and, moreover, I expect every Republican Senator to vote for [reject] the Nuclear Option the very second there is even a whiff of a filibuster.

Contrary to what you read in the New York Times, [c]onservatives are not [don't want to be] a fringe element. Conservatives voted for you and placed you in office [much to our regret]. Conservatives are [used to be] your base and [even though] we have waited for this moment for 30 years, [we have finally come to our senses].


Your Signature Will Be Recreated Here

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The Duke-stir was wired... Interesting-er and interesting-er...

oh, golly, gosh... the whole damn house of cards just may come tumbling down... no wonder cunningham was so broken up when he read his statement after his guilty plea... he was probably thinking about how incredibly pissed his fellow sleazeballs are going to be when they find out their you-know-what's are in a wringer right along with the duke...
Washington’s power players have always bragged about being well-wired, but for disgraced former congressman Duke Cunningham, “wired” wasn’t just a figure of speech. In a week when legislators are focused on the question of who else might be brought down by ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s cooperation with prosecutors as he seeks lenient sentencing over his two federal guilty pleas this week, sources tell TIME that ex-Rep. Cunningham wore a wire to help investigators gather evidence against others just before copping his own plea.

(thanks to think progress...)

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Oh, swell... Just what we've been waiting for - Gitmo east...

yesirree, just what the world needs - another prison, especially one to hold detainees who haven't been charged with anything and have no legal recourse... and, while we're at it, let's put it in someplace that's even more remote and harder to get to than gitmo... and, by the way, let's be sure to point out that we'll be returning the detainees to their HOME COUNTRY... (cue applause...)
The US government has plans to build a high-security prison in Afghanistan to hold terror suspects, including some who would be transferred from the controversial US naval base at Guantánamo Bay.

The site selected for the jail is Pol-e-Charki, a rundown prison near Kabul dating from the Soviet era. Some of the base’s prison facilities have recently been refurbished as part of a European Union-financed criminal justice reform programme backed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

The transfer of prisoners of Afghan origin from Guantánamo to Afghanistan is intended to take pressure off the US administration, which continues to face strong international criticism for holding detainees without trial or other legal recourse.

The administration is eager to return as many detainees as possible to their home countries, while bringing what it considers the most dangerous ones to trial before US military tribunals.

According to estimates by Amnesty International, the human rights group, about 750 people have been detained in Guantánamo since January 2002, many of them of Afghan origin.

jeralyn at talk left has this to say...
So they can be tortured in an Afghan-run, U.S. jail and Bush can still say, "We don't torture." As if we should close our eyes because it's not happening on our soil.

The U.S. is currently holding around 500 prisoners at Bagram and Kandahar. This does not include the terror suspects who are in secret jails in Afghanistan.


Bagram is a torture facility. Why should we expect the new U.S. prison there to be any different? It will just be further out of view.

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The devastating Bush legacy

as paul cummins, the author of this post on huffpo, says, this is "simply a list..." a sadder list of nefarious doings would be hard to imagine...
The following list is, in my opinion, the Bush legacy. It is offered without footnotes, without elaboration or argument, but simply as a list. Perhaps by gathering together these twenty disparate (yet, I believe, related) items, the legacy will be seen for the mean-spirited, unenlightened, arrogant, plutocratic-cronyistic agenda that it is. Never in American history, I believe, has such a disastrous set of principles been enacted.

Each of the twenty has far reaching, negative consequences.

1. Tax cuts leading to massive, unprecedented deficits
2. Preemptive wars against non-aggressive nations
3. Sanctioning of torture
4. De-regulation of environment protections
5. Weakening of the separation of church and state
6. Exempting the gun industry from lawsuits
7. Weakening of individual privacy protections
8. Rejection of international organizations - U.N., World Court, etc.
9. Increased hatred of the U.S.A. in Islamic countries
10. Increase in terrorist attacks since 9/11
11. Neglect of poverty in the U.S.A. and abroad
12. Shifting the tax burden from wealthy corporations and individuals to wage earners
13. Reducing (hoping to abolish) estate taxes thus creating "a permanent aristocracy" in America
14. Furthering anti-intellectualism - a president who admittedly does not read and is embarrassingly inarticulate
15. Increased military spending; hostility to spending for social services
16. Increased number of Americans without health care
17. Rejection of minimum wage increases - five consecutive years
18. Applying the principle of awarding lucrative contracts to crony companies without competitive bidding
19. Attempts to privatize Social Security
20. Four consecutive years of increases in the percentage of Americans living in poverty

Fortunately, the American public seems to be waking up, and perhaps the nation will begin to reverse the Bush assaults upon reason, sustainability, equity, and posterity.

i pray every single day that the american people really do wake up from their long slumber and toss these bastards out on their sorry asses...

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Hey, I've got an idea...! Let's learn another language...!!

we can all read "my pet goat" in spanish...!!
President Bush announced plans yesterday to boost foreign-language study in the United States, casting the initiative as a strategic move to better engage other nations in combating terrorism and promoting freedom and democracy.

on the one hand, an admirable idea... as a foreign language barbarian myself (a term i use to describe those who can only speak one language) and someone who has struggled mightily even picking up my still-rudimentary spanish, i'm all for it... learning another language is a huge bridge to global understanding...

on the other hand, i just have to roll my eyes and shake my head, knowing that there's this giant redneck effort underway to legislate english as the only official u.s. language and to insure that speakers of other languages are unable to function in the u.s. without knowing english... i'll be awaiting the outcry from movement conservatives on this one...

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Abramoff's guilty pleas stirring up a hornet's nest with House R's

some of those who are suggesting that delay be permanently removed from his position as house majority leader aren't exactly that clean themselves... far from it, in fact...
An internal battle is underway among House Republicans to permanently replace Rep. Tom DeLay (Tex.) as majority leader and put in place a new leadership lineup that is better equipped to deal with the growing corruption scandal.

Acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt (Mo.) will ask House Republicans to make his temporary tenure permanent early next month if, as is likely, DeLay is unable to clear his name in the gathering corruption and campaign finance scandals, according to a member of the GOP leadership and several leadership aides.

Abramoff, the once-powerful lobbyist at the center of a wide-ranging public corruption investigation, pleaded guilty Jan. 3 to fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials in a deal that requires him to provide evidence about members of Congress.

The move would almost certainly touch off a GOP power struggle between Blunt, whose rise to power was heavily aided by DeLay and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (Ill.), and House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John A. Boehner (Ohio), a former House leader who has been maneuvering for a comeback.

But other potential candidates could add unexpected twists, especially if rank-and-file Republicans decide that neither Blunt nor Boehner would present a fresh response to the corruption scandal triggered by Jack Abramoff, a GOP lobbyist with close ties to DeLay.

an honest-to-god "fresh response," particularly one that didn't involve worshipping at delay's feet (or bush's either, for that matter), would be very welcome...

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Suspending the Constitution

peter dale scott writes on the "continuity of government" initiative, first worked on by cheney and rumsfeld in the 80s, resurfacing with the current bush administration and still with us... it's a disturbing article... read it...

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Argentina's 2005 inflation - 12.3%

the same as 2004... prospects for 2006 aren't looking so hot either...
January inflation looks like topping last month’s 1.1 percent while experts estimate that prices could rise by as much as 15 percent this year, as against the 2005 total of 12.3 percent (the world’s highest after Venezuela’s 14.4 percent).

speaking of BIG NUMBERS...! temps here in buenos aires are expected to climb as high as 38-40C (that's close to 100F) over the weekend...

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Bush powwows with former Secretaries of State on Iraq

how much was "show and tell...?"
"Not everybody around this table agreed with my decision to go into Iraq and I fully understand that," Bush said, adding that he had listened to their concerns and suggestions. "We take to heart the advice." But Bush offered no evidence he plans any significant changes in strategy.

and how much was "ask and listen...?"
Participants told reporters outside the West Wing afterward that there had been some dissent — gently voiced. ‘‘When you are in the presence of the president of the United States, I don’t care if you’ve been a devout Democrat for the last hundred years, you’re likely to pull your punches to some degree,’’ said Lawrence Eagleburger, a secretary of state under former president George H.W. Bush. ‘‘Now, there was some criticism. But it was basically, you haven’t talked to the American people enough. And it was very mild.’’

anybody want to offer an opinion on the amount of each...?

can you spell w-i-n-d-o-w d-r-e-s-s-i-n-g...?

but at least he's now nervous enough to even bother...

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Israel won

(some thoughts from juan cole's guest blogger, Mark LeVine, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History, University of California, Irvine...)

with the probability of sharon's death or at least his inability to continue in office high, the chances of something taking place that is meaningful, satisfying for both sides and lasting still seems distressingly remote...
[F]or all intents and purposes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over, and Israel has won, decisively. Indeed, since the beginning of the 1990s the whole point of the Oslo peace process, followed by the the low intensity war that began in September 2000, have been to convince and then compel Palestinians to accept that not even their most minimal demands will be met, whether through negotiations or violence. Regardless of who has been prime minister during this period--Rabin, Peres, Netanyahu, Barak or Sharon--Israel's negotiating strategy and final positions have changed little, which is why Palestinians soured on Oslo long before the al-Aqsa intifada erupted in 2000.

In this context, what the renewed violence that began five years ago signified was the growing disconnect between a Palestinian leadership whose very existence and freedom of movement has depended on Israe's good graces, which in turn depended on their gaining Palestinian acquiescence to a deal that few wanted, and a people that refuses to sign despite a decade of largely unkept promises and escalating violence. And no matter who wins either election, no Palestinian leadership will be able to convince their people to accept what Sharon or his successor are willing to offer: a weak and disconnected "state," bisected by settlements and Israeli-only roads, with its resources and economy remaining largely in Israel's hands, Jerusalem out of reach for most citizens, and refugees forced to return cantons that are effectively too small to sustain the existing population.


If a Palestinian leadership signs onto an agreement on Israel's terms, its rejection by a strong segment of Palestinian society will likely produce an Iraq-style dynamic, in which a government presides over a newly established state against which a large and popular insurgency will inflict significant violence while remaining incapable of seriously threatening the occupying power. Most Israelis, like most Americans, will remain outside the bubble of violence, and most Palestinians, like most Iraqis, will remain inside without the wherewithall either to resist or transcend their sorry situation.

Perhaps with the passing of Sharon, Arafat and the rest of the Israeli and Palestinian old guard, a new generation of leaders on both sides will emerge that has the courage and foresight to imagine a shared future for the two peoples that today remains unimaginable. The alternative is another generation lost to violence, a future neither Israelis nor Palestinians deserve.


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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sorry, John, I just HAD to steal it...!

it's too good...

(thanks to john at americablog...)

(UPDATE: also thanks to commenter carson who suggested something i had already thought of but forgot to do, namely, include the link to corey anderson's american idle who originated this torrid visual...)

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Spying: Conyers, as usual, is hot on the case

as much as rep. conyers stands up and says what needs to be said and does what needs to be done, sadly, in this new totalitarian age of bush and his cronies, little seems to come of it...
Congressman John Conyers, Jr. and 21 other House Democrats sent a letter to President Bush today requesting that he provide a range of information concerning the controversial warrantless surveillance program by the NSA, RAW STORY has learned.

In light of recent disclosures by NBC that CNN Reporter Christiane Amanpour's telephone calls may have been intercepted by the Bush Administration -- a fact caught by AMERICAblog's John Aravosis. The Democrats asked for information regarding whether any reporters or other members of the media have had phone calls intercepted under the NSA program.

The congressmembers also asked the President to propose statutory language that would specifically authorize the program so that it could be considered as part of a possible extension of the USA PATRIOT Act scheduled to sunset Feb. 3.

with the sheer arrogance of this administration, i'm sure they'll feel free to ignore it just like they do everything else that might slow down their insane accumulation of power...

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FISA judges: Inquiring minds want to know

great... if i were in their shoes, i'd not only want to know, i'd be damn suspicious about why an end run around my scope of authority was going on...
Several judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said they want to hear directly from administration officials why President Bush believed he had the authority to order, without the court's permission, wiretapping of some phone calls and e-mails after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Of serious concern to several judges is whether any information gleaned from intercepts by the National Security Agency was later used to gain their permission for wiretaps without the source being disclosed.

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James Moore has been on the no-fly list for a YEAR...? WHAT THE F____!!!

all our worst nightmares are coming true... if this can happen to james moore, it could easily happen to you or me...
There are times in which it is easy to be suspicious. We can get to that feeling fairly quickly if we even pay slight attention. I've been trying to get over this odd emotion for at least a year. I can't find any rationale for letting it go, though I want desperately not to have these thoughts.


I have been on the No Fly Watch List for a year. I will never be told the official reason. No one ever is. You cannot sue to get the information. Nothing I have done has moved me any closer to getting off the list. There were 35,000 Americans in that database last year. According to a European government that screens hundreds of thousands of American travelers every year, the list they have been given to work from has since grown to 80,000.


I suppose I should think of it as a minor sacrifice to help keep my country safe. Not being able to print out boarding passes in advance and having to get to the airport three hours early for every flight is hardly an imposition compared to what Americans are enduring in Iraq. I can force myself to get used to all that extra attention from the guy with the wand whenever I walk through the electronic arches. I'm just doing my patriotic duty.

Of course, there's always the chance that the No Fly Watch List is one of many enemies lists maintained by the Bush White House. If that's the case, I am happy to be on that list. I am in good company with people who expect more out of their president and their government.

Hell, maybe I'll start thinking of it as an honor roll.

how is it possible to avoid becoming paranoid with our government pulling this kind of shit on someone who writes a bestselling book critical of the bush administration...? i'd be suspicious of someone who WASN'T paranoid...

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Ok... Who's got the guts to diss the boss on the Patriot Act...?

i don't see anybody raising their hands...
Both a January 4 Associated Press article and a January 3 segment on Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume reported on a White House event in which United States attorneys appeared and spoke in favor of President Bush's efforts to renew controversial provisions of the USA Patriot Act. But in suggesting that there was something noteworthy in the U.S. attorneys' expression of support for the Patriot Act, both the AP and Special Report omitted a key fact: All of the U.S. attorneys who participated in the event are Bush appointees. They work for him. What would be noteworthy is if any had dissented.


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Argentina's relationship with the U.S. on the downswing...? And Bolivia TOO...?

the buenos aires herald isn't happy with what might be fraying relations on two fronts...
[T]he United States has downgraded the relationship with Argentina from “excellent” to “positive” in the US State Department’s end-of-year report but on the other hand, Bolivian president-elect Evo Morales (anathema to Washington) seems to be going everywhere in the world except here. In other words, Argentina is losing ground in Washington without making any progress elsewhere — a lack of definition which could be optimistically viewed as open-ended but might well end up closing options.

while the u.s. might seem to pose the biggest problem, it's bolivia that presents the most immediate potential for trouble - argentina's natural gas supply... with the recent events in the ukraine and europe, let's hope it's not something going around...
[P]aradoxically, the fact that both Morales and our President Néstor Kirchner are left-wing nationalists only compounds the potential friction over the supply and pricing of Bolivian gas. But the government’s curious reluctance to approach Morales risks placing Argentina on the defensive — Bolivia’s future leader has gone instead to Caracas to report to his fellow-firebrand, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who thus stands to call the shots when a more pro-active Argentina could be attempting to play “divide and rule” between Morales and Washington.

ah, but never fear, tomorrow is a new day and always offers new opportunities...
Nothing is lost. Washington’s disenchantment does not extend beyond a certain chagrin over Argentina’s negative attitudes towards the Free Trade of the Americas (FTAA) at last November’s Mar del Plata summit — the Kirchner administration’s firm anti-terrorist stance and solid economic fundamentals keep the relationship “positive.” The agenda with Evo Morales is as open as ever. But even in the dead of summer, some sign of motion from Argentine foreign policy is already urgent.

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Another Tom Tomorrow too good to pass up

markos on daily kos yesterday posted his thought that bush had become the new nixon... mere hours later, he recanted after viewing the latest from tom tomorrow...

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A little-reported piece of the Abramoff story: the Israel connection

juan cole shares some background and a perspective...
Newsweek's Mike Issikoff reported last May that Abramoff diverted $140,000 from a charity ostensibly to benefit inner-city youths to militant Israeli colonists who had usurped land in the Palestinian West Bank. Isikoff wrote:
"Among the expenditures: purchases of camouflage suits, sniper scopes, night-vision binoculars, a thermal imager and other material described in foundation records as "security" equipment. The FBI, sources tell NEWSWEEK, is now examining these payments as part of a larger investigation to determine if Abramoff defrauded his Indian tribe clients . . .

Abramoff, a legendary lobbyist particularly close to DeLay, is also a fierce supporter of Israel—"a super-Zionist," one associate says.

let's not forget what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot, so to speak...
Now here's the thing. If a Palestinian-American had diverted $140,000
from a Muslim charity to "security equipment" and "sniper lessons" for
Palestinians on the West Bank, that individual would be in Gitmo so
fast that the sonic boom would rattle your windows.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bushco to Luttig on the Padilla case: Go to your room...!

In the appeals court decision, Judge J. Michael Luttig warned the administration that it was risking its credibility with the courts by changing tactics in what could be interpreted as an effort to avoid judicial scrutiny.

Solicitor General Paul Clement, the administration's Supreme Court lawyer, had told the justices that that the appeals court denial of the transfer was "an unwarranted attack on the exercise of executive discretion."

judge michael luttig is a conservative darling... but never let it be said that bushco honors the work of its friends any more than it does its foes...
The Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to let the military transfer accused "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla to Miami to face criminal charges in at least a temporary victory for the Bush administration.

The justices overruled a lower court, which had attempted to block the transfer as part of a rebuke to the White House.


now, go to your room...

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How outrageous can Bush get and still not have the citizens demanding his resignation...?

bush today announced the RECESS APPOINTMENTS OF SEVENTEEN INDIVIDUALS...! SEVENTEEN...! RECESS APPOINTMENTS...! appointments that completely circumvent any congressional hearings... appointments that simply place people where bush wants them without bothering about the advise and consent role of the senate... kos comments that bush, for all practical purposes, has dissolved congress... and some of these recess-appointed individuals were highly controversial from the time they were first announced... why controversial, you might ask...? oh, let's see... the usual reasons... zero qualifications... litmus-tested party hacks... personal cronies... corporate water-carriers... oh, wait... those ARE the friggin' qualifications...


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It's all the same

Yup...I was right. To the wingers outing a CIA agent and exposing an illegal wiretap program are the same. In my post about the DoJ investigation into the NSA wiretap leak I proposed:
I believe this may also be an attempt by the WH to conflate the Valerie Plame leak investigation and the domestic spying leak investigation.
Check out this post over at Crooked Timber
Law professor Glenn Reynolds quotes law professor Ann Althouse:
I wonder if those who screamed loudest about the Plame leak and national security are equally outraged about this new leak?
Pointing out this vile hypocrisy must be the zingiest zinger that ever zinged a zingee. They’re right, in way. Few of us who are upset about the outing of Valerie Plame are viscerally upset about the NSA leak, which we tend to see as a classic whistleblower scenario.

Excellent post. Thanks to Atrios for pointing me in the right direction.

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"Cruisin' the blogs" radio program

a reminder to listen in to my new daily blog review radio show... wbat (Buenos Aires Today) is an internet radio station operating from buenos aires, argentina, and my program is called "cruisin' the blogs..." it airs monday through friday, 11-12 in the morning, argentina time, which is 9-10 a.m., u.s. eastern time, and repeats at 10-11 p.m., argentina time... wbat is the first english language radio station in argentina and i'm helping it get started... on my program, i usually include one or two snippets from a number of different blogs i follow on a regular basis... we're still fooling around with format, etc., so it's pretty much a "work in progress..." but, then again, aren't we all...? the station's website is...

and you can listen at...

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Coal mine safety vs. Bush campaign contributions

think progress has more on mine safety and the lax enforcement of safety regulations under bushco... most damning is this...
The Washington Post reported that West Virginia coal firms raised $275,000 for Bush.

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The U.S. military and China agree: shut down bloggers

(thanks to think progress...)
Soldiers’ blogs are increasingly being shut down by the U.S. military.

In November, the Pentagon issued an advisory titled “Loose blogs may blow up BCTs [Brigade Combat Teams].” In an August video message, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker warns troops about the dangerous nature of blogs:
Our adversaries have the ability to take our utterances, our writings and our pictures and do all kinds of things to harm us.

New York Army National Guard Spc. Jason Christopher Hartley had his blog shut down, was fined $1,000, and was demoted from sergeant. Hartley noted that blogs “get shut down almost as fast as they’re set up.”

But not all blogs. “The ones that stay up are completely patriotic and innocuous, and they’re fine if you want to read the flag-waving and how everything’s peachy keen in Iraq.”

A recent Washington Post story backs up Hartley’s observation. The U.S. Marines were so happy with Bill Roggio’s right-wing blog “The Fourth Rail” that they invited him to come to Iraq and cover the war. When he needed an affiliation with with an organization to get media credentials, the conservative American Enterprise Institute graciously offered him one.

evidently the u.s. military and the chinese government are working from the same playbook...
Chinese bloggers posting their thoughts via Microsoft's net service face restrictions on what they can write.

Weblog entries on some parts of Microsoft's MSN site in China using words such as "freedom", "democracy" and "demonstration" are being blocked.

in fact, the level of sophistication achieved by the chinese in blocking content the chinese government deems unsuitable may be the envy of the u.s. military...
A recent report on China's filtering efforts by the OpenNet Initiative called the government's scheme the most sophisticated one in the world. "While there can be legitimate debates about whether democratization and liberalization are taking place in China's economy and government, there is no doubt that neither is taking place in China's Internet environment today," the report concludes darkly.

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Argentina to the IMF: The check is in the mail

ok, they did it... the imf is no longer an argentina creditor... or, as the Buenos Aires Herald's editorial says, "Bye bye IMF, hello Chávez..."
And so it happened, Argentina sent a cheque to the IMF and settled a lingering political bill, more substantial than the figures of the debt itself. The government trusts that this will generate a sort of freedom that will liberate it from external pressures, but that is subject to controversy and to be proved. For Argentina, yesterday was “Chau FMI” day.


Since the presidential announcement two weeks ago, Argentine politicians and economists have been steeped in controversy over the usefulness of the IMF debt settlement. The decision at year’s end stole some of the thunder from the far more impressive resolution, in March, which was the restructuring of Argentina’s massive debt, when 76 percent of Argentine bond holders accepted new terms of settlement that included a massive deduction in face value and on returns. It was an economic landmark far more substantial than the decision at year’s end to pay off seven percent of the public debt, which was that held by the IMF.


Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez has become Argentina’s main creditor, and lender now, and it is unclear if this is beneficial or not. He may be a demagogue, but by the speed with which he sold the Argentine bonds he purchased and the profit he gained, Chávez showed he was a well-advised authoritarian. And from that place it remains to be seen if his friendship will be free of conditions and pressure. This is the question that will probably be answered quite early in this new year.

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Only one survivor in an accident that should never have happened

this is something that should NEVER have happened... the mining company has had numerous safety violations over the years, for one thing, and for anxiously waiting families and friends to be told their loved ones were alive only to be told the opposite shortly thereafter is unforgiveable...
There were angry scenes in West Virginia today after families learned that reports of the survival of 12 miners trapped in a coal mine were incorrect and only one man was alive.

Families learned of the deaths from mine officials more than three hours after state governor Joe Manchin said he had been told 12 of the miners survived the disaster. Mr Manchin described the confusion over the number of deaths as "heart-wrenching" and said it was the wrong time to blame anyone for the earlier miscommunication that only one of the miners had died.

Ben Hatfield, the chief executive officer of the International Coal Group that owns the mine, said the sole survivor of the disaster, Randal McCloy Jr, had been taken to hospital in a serious condition.

and now that bushco has virtually gutted msha, the mining company evidently chose to operate a much less than safe environment...
Time and again over the past four years, federal mining inspectors documented the same litany of problems at central West Virginia's Sago Mine: mine roofs that tended to collapse without warning. Faulty or inadequate tunnel supports. A dangerous buildup of flammable coal dust.


In the past two years, the mine was cited 273 times for safety violations, of which about a third were classified as "significant and substantial," according to documents compiled by the Labor Department's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Many were for problems that could contribute to accidental explosions or the collapse of mine tunnels, records show.

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A CEO speaks out: "If the Patriot Act defines the term 'patriot,' then I am certainly not one."

(T.J. Rodgers is the CEO of Cypress Semiconductor in San Jose. He wrote this article for the Mercury News.)
I would much rather live as a free man under the highly improbable threat of another significant Al-Qaida attack than I would as a serf, spied on by an oppressive government that can jail me secretly, without charges. If the Patriot Act defines the term ``patriot,'' then I am certainly not one. By far, our own government is a bigger threat to our freedom than any possible menace posed by Al-Qaida.

is this man a flaming liberal...? no... merely a realist...
I don't trust President Bush to honor my rights, nor did I trust President Clinton, who was caught with secret FBI files on his political enemies. It's not that I'm unpatriotic. The founders of our country did not trust any government -- either that of George III or an uncontrolled democracy.

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After 9/11, NSA initially went it alone

(more from the nyt...)

obviously, the agency wouldn't have expanded its scope of domestic surveillance without a sense that they were acting within their charter of defined authority... what this tells me is that they have been engaged in this kind of activity for a lot longer than they are saying...
The National Security Agency acted on its own authority, without a formal directive from President Bush, to expand its domestic surveillance operations in the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, according to declassified documents released Tuesday.

The N.S.A. operation prompted questions from a leading Democrat, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who said in an Oct. 11, 2001, letter to a top intelligence official that she was concerned about the agency's legal authority to expand its domestic operations, the documents showed.

Ms. Pelosi's letter, which was declassified at her request, showed much earlier concerns among lawmakers about the agency's domestic surveillance operations than had been previously known. Similar objections were expressed by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia, in a secret letter to Vice President Dick Cheney nearly two years later.

i firmly believe that, as things continue to come out, we will see that domestic spying has been widespread for quite some time, and i'm talking in decades, not years...

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Abramoff's statement entered with his plea bargain

This is what Jack Abramoff said in court today:

"Your honor, words will not be able to ever express how sorry I am for this, and I have profound regret and sorrow for the multitude of mistakes and harm I have caused. All of my remaining days, I will feel tremendous sadness and regret for my conduct and for what I have done. I only hope that I can merit forgiveness from the Almighty and from those I have wronged or caused to suffer. I will work hard to earn that redemption."

ya know what, jack...? regrets and apologies are never to be taken for granted and i am never disposed to doubt the sincerity of someone who offers them... however, i do wish you had acknowledged in your public statement the tremendous damage you have done to the fabric of your country and that, in your subsequent actions, you will do everything in your power to make amends by revealing the full extent of your criminal activities and identifying all those who were complicit with you in carrying them out... now, THAT would be a REAL APOLOGY...

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The Abramoff charges

click on image to view complete pdf document

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Sen. Harry Reid to address annual Kos convention

good choice...
The YearlyKos Board of Directors announced today that Democratic Senator Harry Reid will speak at the 2006 YearlyKos bloggers convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Senator Reid's reputation as a common sense leader who unapologetically stands for what he believes in has made him a hero to many progressives, especially in the netroots where we don't pull any punches,” said convention organizer and board member Gina Cooper. “His presence at the convention will inspire a new generation of grassroots progressives.”

The YearlyKos convention is scheduled for June 8-11, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition to nationally-known political speakers, the convention will feature workshops, seminars and social events designed to bring together the liberal/progressive community that has grown around Daily Kos, the most heavily-trafficked political blog in the world. The site generates an estimated 4-5 million unique visits or more per week.

daily kos... an amazing progressive success story... the best to all of 'em in 2006...

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Three more years of "an empty man..."

a commenter accused me the other day of having an obsession with bush... i think that's reasonably accurate although it's less with the man himself than with what he symbolizes for me - the most visible face on some of the worst destruction i could ever imagine happening to the united states of america... i've often said that watching what's taking place on our national political stage, for me, is akin to watching the snake charmer bringing the cobra out of the basket with his flute - it's hypnotizing... i keep watching in horror as the snake rises higher and higher, tasting the air with its flickering tongue...
We have three more years of Bush as the main player in our national drama, three more years of platitudes, certainties, grinning, winking, cajoling, but never owning the consequences of his own actions. Since he cannot change his act, we will continue to get what we see -- an empty man propped up with a foolish sense of his own worth, taking us from one new disaster to another -- that is, unless the other players in our national drama, the stumbling Democrats and few surviving decent Republicans effectively oppose a leader who cannot lead. We don't need a hero for our national play, just some strong supporting actors with enough courage and sense to stand up against this comedian in our tragedy. More important is an enlightened electorate who must ultimately take center stage and restore the values upon which this country was founded.

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Abramoff taking his fall as we speak

big news... now, let's see who he's going to take down with him...
From CNN:

Filing papers in court now.

Pleading guilty to fraud, corruption and tax evasion in Federal Court.

Agreement reached late last night.

It’s a cooperation agreement. Final sentence will be determined when he finishes cooperating. Maximum of 10 years.

CNN reports he’s been cooperating for some time.

(thanks to think progress...)

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On the radio - "Cruisin' the blogs..."

just to let you know, i'm doing a blog review radio show on an internet only radio station in buenos aires, m-f, 11-12 in the morning (argentina time), 9-10 (u.s. est) with a repeat from 10-11 at night (argentina time)... this is the first english language station in argentina and i'm helping it get started... i usually include one or two snippets from a number of different blogs i follow on a regular basis... we're still fooling around with format, etc., so it's pretty much a "work in progress..." but, then again, aren't we all...? the station's website is

and you can listen at

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Homeland security assistance for places that need it...? 'Scuse ME...??

read this slowly and carefully... your objective - find every waldo hidden in this picture...
Facing cuts in antiterrorism financing, the Department of Homeland Security plans to announce today that it will evaluate new requests for money from an $800 million aid program for cities based less on politics and more on assessments of where terrorists are likely to strike and potentially cause the greatest damage, department officials say.

ok, now, point by point...

1) Antiterrorism funding is being CUT.
2) New funding requests will be based MORE on assessments of where terrorists are likely to strike.
3) Previous funding assessments were based LESS on assessments of where terrorists were likely to strike.
4) New funding requests will be based LESS on politics.
5) Previous funding requests were based MORE on politics.
6) Since antiterrorism funding is being CUT, LESS money will be available to places where terrorists are likely to strike.
7) Places that previously received antiterrorism funding based MORE on politics will receive LESS money.
8 ) New antiterrorism funding requests based on politics will receive LESS money.
9) Previous antiterrorism funding that was based MORE on politics MAY be responsible for the fact that antiterrorism funding is now being CUT.

have i missed one...?

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Now, Reuters is saying Chalabi got the Oil Minister job through a "coup"

it looks like the only one who consistently comes out on top in all the garbage that iraq is suffering through is ahmad chalabi, the one whose lies helped bush start the war in the first place...
Uloum's resignation as oil minister came after what looked like an old-style ministerial coup last month, when he was placed on leave against his will and replaced by Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi.

Uloum had opposed the December 19 fuel prices rises, saying they should have been introduced more gradually. The price of premium gasoline went up by 200 percent, with other fuels doubling in price. However, given the level of subsidy, further price rises seem likely under the IMF's strictures.

he has no credibility but he obviously still wields a lot of power... chalabi's been trying to get himself a fiefdom in iraq for many years... i guess controlling iraq's oil would qualify, huh...?

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Say goodnight, John...

and don't let the screen door hit you in the ass on your way out...
It's almost as if Sen. John Kerry never stopped running for president. He still jets across the country, raising millions of dollars and rallying Democrats. He still stalks the TV news show circuit, scolding President Bush at every turn.

His campaign Web site boasts of an online army of 3 million supporters.

The Massachusetts Democrat, defeated by Bush in 2004, insists it is far too early to talk about the 2008 race, but some analysts assume he has already positioning himself for another shot at the White House.

ok, look, it's a free country (or at least it USED to be) and john kerry can take another crack at running for president if he wants to... but i didn't want him the first damn time around and i definitely don't want him in 2008... imho, he's fully proved his wussiness and doesn't need any more time on the presidential campaign trail to convince us he doesn't have what it takes... give it a rest, john... work at being a halfway decent senator and give us all a break... better yet, throw your support behind someone who actually HAS the right stuff...

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Bush kicks off 2006 with more lies

robert parry at consortium news kicks off his own 2006 by continuing to stay focused on the truth that george w. bush seems determined to skirt at all costs...
George W. Bush’s dysfunctional relationship with the truth seems to be shaped by two complementary factors – a personal compulsion to say whatever makes him look good at that moment and a permissive environment that rarely holds him accountable for his lies.

How else to explain his endless attempts to rewrite history and reshape his own statements, a pattern on display again in his New Year’s Day comments to reporters in San Antonio, Texas? In that session, as Bush denied misleading the public, he twice again misled the public.

Bush launched into a defense of his honesty by denying that he lied when he told a crowd in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2004 that “by the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires – a wiretap requires a court order.”

Two years earlier, Bush had approved rules that freed the National Security Agency to use warrantless wiretaps on communications originating in the United States without a court order. But Bush still told the Buffalo audience, “Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.”

On New Year’s Day 2006, Bush sought to explain those misleading comments by contending. “I was talking about roving wiretaps, I believe, involved in the Patriot Act. This is different from the N.S.A. program.”

However, the context of Bush’s 2004 statement was clear. He broke away from a discussion of the USA Patriot Act to note “by the way” that “any time” a wiretap is needed a court order must be obtained. He was not confining his remarks to “roving wiretaps” under the Patriot Act.

In his New Year's Day remarks, Bush further misled the public, by insisting that his warrantless wiretaps only involved communications from suspicious individuals abroad who were contacting people in the United States, a policy that would be legal. Bush said the eavesdropping was “limited to calls from outside the United States to calls within the United States.”

all of that's bad enough but here's the really ugly, viciously manipulative part...
[A]t a crucial political juncture – before the Nov. 2, 2004, election – the Bush administration kept its secret wiretapping operation under wraps by misleading senior editors of the New York Times. The Times, which had been fooled about Iraq’s WMD, was fooled again.

This tendency to always give George W. Bush the benefit of every doubt raises serious questions about the health of American democracy, which holds that no man is above the law. It’s also hard to imagine any other recent president getting away with so much deception and paying so little price.

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Why, Mr. President...??

bush said yesterday, "If somebody from al Qaeda is calling you, we'd like to know why." here's what steve clemons would like to know...
We'd like to know why a Court would not authorize you to listen to that phone call or read that email, Mr. President. Why do you -- as President of the United States -- think that it is OK to systematically circumvent the American justice system? That is the question at hand.

The White House is engaged in sleight-of-hand duplicity over what the real debate is over.

The President does not want his actions constrained or have any oversight over his actions. That doesn't wash in a democracy.

Do you know what a democracy is, Mr. Bush? Do you know what checks-and-balances means?

Would you please scribble out an essay -- in your own hand -- as to what you think the limits of Executive Power are? Or, do you feel that the Chief Executive has no limits?

We'd really like to know, Mr. Bush. Your defense of wiretaps that even John Ashcroft got ulcers about approving makes the nation's skin crawl.

You've taken this country into the Orwellian nightmare that we all accused the Soviet Union of promulgating -- and now that has become us. We are spying on ourselves without Constitutional protections and judicial regulation.

That is NOT democracy, though I'm sure that those in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East who are allegedly "learning democracy" from us are taking notes.

nope... definitely not democracy...

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"Anti-democracy" in Venezuela and Latin America

in a post just yesterday, springing from an editorial by robert fisk in the la times, i commented how our traditional media subvert a genuine understanding of important events by juggling words and their meanings... today, the wapo takes pains to prove the case...
The year ended with a string of reverses. In a regional summit in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in November, President Bush was jeered by demonstrators and taunted by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who aspires to make Latin America anti-American and anti-democratic.

anyone who follows the events in both latin america and venezuela knows that what is happening here is far from anti-democratic but the wapo and other such p.r. outlets of the u.s. government persist in labeling it thus... if you want a real, honest-to-god analysis of what's going on in venezuela under chavez and a thorough debunking of the media crap that's regularly dished out in the u.s., go read mark weisbrot's terrific piece in tpm cafe...

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No new $$ for Iraq and the $1B is still at large

funny they don't mention the billion or so that disappeared down the iyad allawi rathole during his term in office...
The Bush administration does not intend to seek any new funds for Iraq reconstruction in the budget request going before Congress in February, officials say. The decision signals the winding down of an $18.4 billion U.S. rebuilding effort in which roughly half of the money was eaten away by the insurgency, a buildup of Iraq's criminal justice system and the investigation and trial of Saddam Hussein.

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Armando challenges Alito's support for the President's penchant for interpreting the law

with today's wapo story on alito as a starting point, armando at kos highlights a very interesting point about supreme court nominee samuel alito and frames it in the larger context of bush's predeliction for usurping legislative power and/or twisting the law to his own ends...
The February 1986 memo where Samuel Alito suggested that the President adopt the practice of issuing "interpretative signing statements" became more than just a bizarre proposal when the Bush Administration's penchant for disregarding duly enacted federal law became brazen -- through Bush's illegal program of warrantless domestic surveillance.

In the memo, Alito proposed:
a case for having the president routinely issue statements about the meaning of statutes when he signs them into law.

Such "interpretive signing statements" would be a significant departure from run-of-the-mill bill signing pronouncements, which are "often little more than a press release," Alito wrote. The idea was to flag constitutional concerns and get courts to pay as much attention to the president's take on a law as to "legislative intent."

"Since the president's approval is just as important as that of the House or Senate, it seems to follow that the president's understanding of the bill should be just as important as that of Congress," Alito wrote. He later added that "by forcing some rethinking by courts, scholars, and litigants, it may help to curb some of the prevalent abuses of legislative history."

armando's response, in a word - baloney...
The AUMF [Authorization to Use Military Force] is now argued as the superseding Congressional action which authorizes Bush's illegal domestic surveillance program. OF course this too is preposterous.

But the most preposterous argument is that a President who bludgeoned a spineless Congress to do whatever he wanted can now argue that that very Congress did not give him what he needed therefore he had to break the law.

what this piece of background does make quite clear, however, is bush's REAL motivation behind alito's appointment... (hint: it ain't only to overturn roe v. wade...)

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

George Bush is "the worst kind of president..."

fear the "strong, dumb president..."
George W. Bush turns out to be a bold president, willing to take huge risks and make tough judgment calls -- but by most accounts, he is not an intelligent man and made decisions on gut more than serious analysis. This makes him the worst kind of president -- a kind of anti-FDR.

As former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson recently stated, the framers of the National Security Act after World War II feared a future strong, dumb president -- and felt that much needed to be done to protect the country from someone like a George W. Bush.

in all seriousness, i don't fear the man... i don't even hate him... i love my country... i love its promise... it's my heritage... it's where my children and grandchildren, the lights of my life, live... all of us, all american citizens, all the people of the world, deserve real leadership from the country that wields the dominant power and influence in the world today... that leadership is completely missing in the administration of george bush... he is not only the "anti-fdr," he's the anti-leader...

(thanks to steve clemons at the washington note...)

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Let THIS be the year

that we see bush and his gang of criminals tossed out of office... this country can't tolerate any more... we've been continuously sucker-punched for five years... things went over the top the day the supreme court decided to award bush the florida electoral votes and it's been one outrage after another ever since... they have to go... all of them...

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George Bush continues his desperate effort to spin domestic spying

President Bush strongly defended his domestic spying program on Sunday, calling it legal as well as vital to thwarting terrorist attacks, and contended the leak making it public had caused "great harm to the nation."

"This is a limited program designed to prevent attacks on the United States of America and, I repeat, limited," Bush told reporters after visiting wounded troops at Brooke Army Medical Center. "I think most Americans understand the need to find out what everybody's the enemy's thinking." [strikeout is mine]

would someone please put this man out of my misery...?

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Mexico's Zapatistas on the move prior to the 2006 elections

i posted in june, july and august about the planned emergence of the zapatistas from the lacandon rain forest in the southern mexico state of chiapas and their plans to exert a major influence on the 2006 presidential elections in mexico scheduled for this coming july...

at the time, i was surprised to learn that the zapatistas and their leader, subcomandante marcos, were opposed to the leading candidate for president, andrés manuel lópez obrador (or amlo as he's come to be known), the left-leaning mayor of mexico city...

The Zapatista rebels of Mexico are emerging from their jungle hideout for a six-month campaign tour of the country, designed to be an alternative to this year's already contentious presidential race.

The tour begins on New Year's Day - to coincide with the anniversary of a brief Zapatista uprising in the name of Indian rights 12 years ago. This time, however, the Zapatistas are not expected to carry weapons and declare war when they march into San Cristobal.

Marcos has promised that the movement will not be violent, saying that he will no longer be a military sub-commander but a civilian known as Delegate Zero.

He said the Zapatistas would not run for elected office or join Mexico's mainstream political process, which he described as corrupt and out of touch with the people.

Subcomandante Marcos

Subcomandante Marcos, the Zapatista leader, has said he will build a nationalist leftist movement that will "shake this country up from below" during a visit to Mexico's 31 states.


Marcos has repeatedly criticised the leftist Democratic Revolution party and its presidential candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the former mayor of Mexico City, who leads most polls for the presidential elections.

given the left turn that many latin american countries either have already taken or may be taking soon as the rest of the 19 latin american countries slated for elections between this past october and the end of 2006 go to the polls, 2006 will be a VERY INTERESTING YEAR for latin america...

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More debt

Here we go again. For the fourth time since the Bush crime syndicate took over, we need to raise the debt ceiling. Of course, Congress will grant it. But will they rescind the tax cuts? Nope.
Treasury Secretary John Snow on Thursday said the United States could face the prospect of not being able to pay its bills early next year unless Congress raises the government's borrowing authority, now capped at $8.18 trillion.


The last time Congress agreed to boost the debt limit was in November 2004 - from $7.38 trillion to the current $8.18 trillion. The government's statutory borrowing authority also was pushed up in 2002 and in 2003.

Snow's letter did not say how much of a boost to the current debt limit the department would like to see this time.

Instead, Snow implored: "I am writing to request that Congress raise the statutory debt limit as soon as possible."

Dear God...

What I don't understand, and that's prolly because I am not an economist, come the government gets to raise it's own credit limit? I mean, I don't get to raise my credit card limit. I have to ask the lender. So, the U.S. is authorizing itself to borrow more money. I guess it begs the question of whether or not the rest of the world will continue to finance our financial irresponsibility.

And how does this fit in with Bush's radio address he gave just yesterday?
By being responsible with the taxpayers' money, we are funding our nation's priorities, while staying on track to cut the deficit in half by 2009.

Getting further and further in debt is being responsible with taxpayers' money?

Oh, I forgot. Everyday is Opposite Day in the Bush White House.

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Reno Flooding Pictures

You can find some good photo galleries of the flooding at the Reno Gazette-Journal web site.

Man, what is it about the New Year's Eve holiday for Reno? Last year we were buried under several feet of snow. This year flooding. What's on the agenda for next year?

This was my car after being snowed on all night last year (1/30/04). That is, after I had already cleared 6 inches of snow off it in order to drive it to the motel I stayed in that night. And this is nothing compared to what other places got. Click on image for full size.

Free Image Hosting at

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War: "...the total failure of the human spirit."

resolution for 2006: remember that media "reality" often isn't...
American television . . . continues to present war as a bloodless sandpit in which the horrors of conflict — the mutilated bodies of the victims of aerial bombing, torn apart in the desert by wild dogs — are kept off the screen. Editors in New York and London make sure that viewers' "sensitivities" don't suffer, that we don't indulge in the "pornography" of death (which is exactly what war is) or "dishonor" the dead whom we have just killed.


Back in the old days, we used to believe — did we not? — that journalists should "tell it how it is."


[Let's] express the reality of war by showing that it represents not, primarily, victory or defeat, but the total failure of the human spirit.

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More on the Reno flooding

The flooded Truckee River runs over
Wingfield Park in downtown Reno on
Saturday after heavy rains fell.

skadi's report from late last night...
It appears the worst is over, but many road closures still ongoing. We are expecting freezing temps tonight, snow expected tomorrow night.

definitely not the best way to welcome the new year...
Rains from a Pacific storm pummeled the region Saturday, causing widespread flooding in Reno, Sparks and Carson City.

The relentless storm crippled travel on Interstate 80, created power outages and forced the evacuation of homes from Lockwood to Dayton. Reno officials postponed New Year's Eve fireworks in downtown until tonight.

Creeks and irrigation ditches overflowed as the Truckee River's brown currents turned into whitecaps, submerging portions of Reno and Sparks. The flooding was the worst to hit the area since January 1997.

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Bush must be really nervous to be coming back from vacation early

maybe the talk of impeachment is doing what katrina couldn't do - get george back from one of his endless vacations...
Mr. Bush is scheduled to return to the White House earlier than usual from his break and start a campaign to set the tone for 2006 and, perhaps, the remainder of his presidency.

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Bushco: When someone doesn't give you the answer you want

this little vignette perfectly describes the bush administration... if you don't get the answers you want, if the facts don't match your view of reality, if someone gets in your way, you get somebody to give you the answer you're looking for, you change the facts to suit your needs of the moment, you go to someone else, even if they're hospitalized to undergo major surgery...
A top Justice Department official objected in 2004 to aspects of the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program and refused to sign on to its continued use amid concerns about its legality and oversight, according to officials with knowledge of the tense internal debate. The concerns appear to have played a

The concerns prompted two of President Bush's most senior aides - Andrew H. Card Jr., his chief of staff, and Alberto R. Gonzales, then White House counsel and now attorney general - to make an emergency visit to a Washington hospital in March 2004 to discuss the program's future and try to win the needed approval from Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was hospitalized for gallbladder surgery, the officials said.

The unusual meeting was prompted because Mr. Ashcroft's top deputy, James B. Comey, who was acting as attorney general in his absence, had indicated he was unwilling to give his approval to certifying central aspects of the program, as required under the White House procedures set up to oversee it.

With Mr. Comey unwilling to sign off on the program, the White House went to Mr. Ashcroft - who had been in the intensive care unit at George Washington University Hospital with pancreatitis and was housed under unusually tight security - because "they needed him for certification," according to an official briefed on the episode. The official, like others who discussed the issue, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the program.

if you have ever had a question about how and why the bush administration selects its nominees for senior positions, this story tells you everything you need to know...

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